The Beginning of Something Else

On June 1, 2007 I found out my husband and partner of almost two decades had been unfaithful to me since before our marriage, and had been having intercourse with prostitutes for 3 1/2 years. This is what happened next.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


After two years of gigantic personal growth spurts, newly discovered spirituality, and tons of therapy, it would seem like everything would be on the up and up, yes?

Well of course not! The whole "journey, not a destination" rigmarole seems to be proving true once again. (This is why it gets on mugs and magnets I suppose. They rival bumper stickers as a source for all of life's deepest truths.)

I've spent the last couple weeks caught in a downward spiral. I'm in one of those places where I'm finding it hard to feel anything, mostly where Husband is concerned.

Yesterday afternoon we snuck away together to see Julie & Julia. I watched with a little sadness because that's the relationship I thought we had in many ways - loving, connected and close but independent, respectful, supportive - and the relationship I thought I would have as we grew old together. (I'm sure I've idealized things, and that's something I need to keep in mind.) But now I have doubts I will ever feel that easy deep connection with him again, and that makes me very sad.

Husband does everything right. He has worked his 12-step program diligently since day one; he's gone to therapy; he ACTS differently; he's grown tremendously; and he's probably much more the man I thought I was married to than ever before. He's a different person than he was in 2007.

But despite all his work and all his progress (not to mention my own work and progress,) I have sunk into this low place where my relationship is concerned. I talked with my therapist about it, and she summed up our session saying that I seem to have two choices: Wait it out and let my openness to deep intimacy grow as Husband proves himself over time; or take the risk and jump in with my heart open as wide as possible. Both are fine choices she said.

I want to do the latter, because I think a risk like that with someone who has been in active recovery for 2 years is less of a risk than it feels. And I know peace will be more accessible if I can make the shifts within myself that make that kind of openness possible for me again. But I just don't seem to be able to push myself past some undefinable obstacle that has settled in. Sometimes I wonder if I love my husband. I think I do, I have a lot of good reasons to, but sometimes I can't feel it.

When I imagine being with someone else, I certainly don't get any rush of relief. Another man simply represents a different set of challenges and unknowns. There is no Prince Charming (if anything, I believe I'm the only one who can sweep me off my feet.) So I think something in me needs to shift. I think my current numbness has little to do with Husband, and mostly to do with another level of growth that is becoming available to me. I think the root of my funk has something to do with my inability to completely surrender to the bottom line that life is ultimately beyond my control. My Good People/Bad People buckets can't protect me from being hurt and betrayed.

And Husband and I are DIFFERENT. (Something I forget again and again.) But that doesn't make him dangerous (I also forget this.) It just feels that way. Not that I'm absolved from taking care of my own well-being first and foremost. But he can tick differently from me and not be dangerous as long as he's not slipping into delusion, denial and grandiosity. And how do I know that's not happening? Only by his actions - only by the fact that he's working his program, going to meetings, apologizing when he's an asshole, doing things differently from how he used to when he was an unconscious narcissistic addict and I was an unconscious codie.

It does feel like a bit of a tightrope to navigate, but I think any high-stakes situation is going to feel like that.

I met with my step-buddy (I'm still working on writing up my 1st step) and she reminded me that the ups and downs I'm feeling are the landscape of a long-term relationship. I am an absolutist through and through, and another thing I always, ALWAYS forget is that this moment is not how it will be forever.

This too shall pass.


MargauxMeade said...

I can totally relate to having to remind myself that "stuck" times like these won't last forever. Actually, I think we're always healing--even and maybe ESPECIALLY during those times that we're not feeling so serene. I've noticed that in my own recovery. I'll go through a period that feels awful and I'll come out of it a lot stronger, and only then will I be able to see that it was all a part of the process.

Sophie in the Moonlight said...


I've been struggling with these same thoughts for the last few weeks. Bowser is approaching two years sobriety, our wedding anniversary is fast approaching, and I'm PTSDing all over the place.

You are right and you are saying the same things to yourself that I am saying to myself. (Although, I'm going to add the idea of the Good People/Bad People bucket to my internal lexicon. That's excellent insight.)

This journey has no destination. There is no end. There is only beginning. There is only Now. These are good things even for a freaky detail-oriented absolutist person like me.

I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.
I'm doing it

((((hugs)))) and empathy along with a nice dollop of love.


Rae said...

I'm sorry you're feeling sad and discontent. I certainly have been there. You're right ... this too shall pass and change, and come back around. I just wrote on my list of current resentments that I'm angry at fairy tales and Hollywood for telling lies about what love is supposed to look like. I'm grateful today to be defining it for myself. Please keep sharing. Your writing is inspiring.

Ruby said...

Wondered if you'd seen this Berlusconi...

woman.anonymous7 said...

Thank you Margaux, Sophie and Rae - there's nothing like a healthy dose of other people's experience, strength and hope when I'm in a tailspin.

I guess it takes a village to raise my inner-child, too!

And there is a village.

And for that, among many things, I am grateful.